|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
Methodist Chapel, Castleton, North Yorkshire, England
Castleton Methodist Chapel, Castleton, North Yorkshire, England.
None. The chapel is no longer used for worship on a regular
basis. However, special services are held there from time to
time. The service I attended was sponsored by Sanctuary,
a group from nearby Guisborough Methodist Church.
This is quite an unassuming building, easily missed, despite
being in a prominent position on the main street of the village.
It dates from 1871 and is probably little changed structurally
since then. The exterior is constructed from creamy coloured
brick with stone detailing, and some attractive round-arched
windows. Inside, the walls have been painted relatively recently,
though damp appears to be coming in on one side. At the front
is an impressive array of organ pipes and some sort of dais.
The floor of the main body of the building slopes upwards, and
the pews are situated here. There is also the usual rabbit warren
of rooms at the back common to Methodist chapels.
Although the chapel is not used for regular worship, a local
non-Christian youth group meets there, and a non-denominational
prayer meeting is held fortnightly.
Castleton in North Yorkshire (not to be confused with Castleton
in Derbyshire) is a small village set amidst the heather moors
of the North York Moors National Park (more sheep than people).
Despite the inroads of tourism, the village still maintains
an authentic community atmosphere, though most locals now commute
to Teeside these days rather than work locally. Castleton has
had a somewhat uneasy relationship with Methodism in the past.
Tradition relates that when John Wesley came to preach on the
village green, the locals set a bull on him! Fortunately we
received a somewhat warmer welcome.
Tim Woolley and Anne Anderson, lay persons associated with Guisborough
The date & time:
4 October 2008, 7.30pm.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The building was about two-thirds full, probably about 40 to
50 people all told.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. A woman was waiting at the door to shake hands with everyone
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was possibly the most uncomfortable I've ever experienced.
Due to the way the floor sloped, you felt you might fall out
of it at any minute.
How would you describe the pre-service
It was quite noisy. There was a CD of modern worship songs playing, and most people were chatting with their neighbours.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Right. Good evening, everybody. It's lovely to see you
here on this wet and windy night."
What books did the congregation use during the
No books. There was an overhead projector that displayed the
words of the songs, and in between times showed a very attractive
photo of a church building overlooking the sea, which may be
seen on the group's website.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboards, guitars and drums.
Did anything distract you?
The main distraction was a member of the congregation. Obviously
a bit of a rough diamond, this gentleman (who was sitting across
the way from me) clapped some of the songs, made occasional
comments to the congregation at large and specific people, and
walked out two or three times to have a cigarette. I was also
distracted by the uncomfortable nature of the pew, trying to
recall if I had ever felt so uncomfortable in church.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
There was no liturgy. The service consisted of rock worship
songs, short Bible passages, and times for prayer and what was
called "sharing," which mainly consisted of some people
in the group telling how God had brought them through difficult
circumstances. The music was loud, with a PA system and about
a half dozen singers leading it. Many of the attendees joined
in with enthusiasm.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 Difficult to judge style, etc. from such a short sermon. Apparently it was abridged because the other elements of the service had over-run.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The theme was: "In God's crazy economy, the one staple
currency that never fluctuates is love." The preacher explained
how he had spent a holiday in a luxury hotel where he realised
it was little use flashing his money around. By contrast, if
he had been in a place where people lived in poverty, what he
had would have seemed a lot. He said God's love is the same,
by which I think he meant that we should be showing God's love
to those in need.
Which part of the service was like being in
I really enjoyed the singing. The group were very proficient
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The pew it really was that uncomfortable!
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
There was an invitation to have a cup of tea as the service
finished. I sat in the pew for a while, but most people were
chatting to friends. When I got up and walked to the door, the
same person who had greeted me invited me to have a cup of tea.
How would you describe the after-service
There was tea and coffee, served in proper cups if you got
there quickly. The tea was fairly traded (and very good) but
the coffee was not. I have a vague memory of seeing plates of
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 I would go along to another Sanctuary service, but
probably not in this building (the pews!). I did feel the service
was lacking something in the sermon department. It felt like
having pudding without a main course. Good fun but ultimately
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, it did. I enjoyed the singing, and I was impressed by the
commitment of the group. They clearly had spent much time preparing
for the service as a means of outreach.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
Maybe the whole incongruity of it a modern rock worship
service in a little country chapel.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.